17 Dec 2004

New Zealand foreign minister welcomes Bougainville milestone

2:05 pm on 17 December 2004

The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Phil Goff, is welcoming final agreement by Papua New Guinea to a constitution underpinning autonomy for Bougainville.

The constitution cleared its final hurdle when the PNG cabinet approved it this week.

It is set to be signed into law, allowing elections on the island within months.

Mr Goff says it is a huge advance and follows good progress with weapons disposal.

He says the new constitution and elections are important steps towards ensuring the 2001 Bougainville peace agreement is sustainable and will work.

"We now have to ensure, however, that people on Bougainville have a very clear concept of their responsibility to work to build up the economic resources of their own territory to make a success of it, rather than simply believing that forever they can rely on funding coming from outside the country."

The New Zealand Foreign Minister, Phil Goff.